Changes on Clairemont: 2021 brings new businesses, development to Eau Claire

Construction is underway at multiple locations along Clairemont Avenue, ushering in several new commercial opportunities for the city
A road sign for E. Clairemont Ave. in Eau Claire, Wis.
A road sign for E. Clairemont Ave. in Eau Claire, Wis.(Jimmie Kaska/WEAU)
Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 11:53 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Take a drive along Clairemont Avenue, and you may notice several construction sites.

Commercial development at several locations along Clairemont Avenue is underway in 2021, providing new opportunities for the city.

Some of the projects are still in the planning phase, but others are already taking shape along the main thoroughfare.

One of the largest projects currently underway is the 94,000-square foot building that will be home to a new Hy-Vee grocery store. Estimated to open later this year, the new store replaces the K-Mart building, which was demolished as part of the estimated $9.2 million cost of the project.

“It’s moving pretty quickly,” says Eau Claire Community Development Director Scott Allen.

“We just issued the latest round of permits a few weeks ago for the interior buildout.”

Hy-Vee’s storefront will face west, which is a change from the old layout of K-Mart, which faced south. Initial planning and research sought vehicle access directly from Clairemont Avenue, but after the Wisconsin Department of Transportation analyzed traffic studies, that part of the plan was denied, according to Allen.

Exterior walls and foundation are up for the new Hy-Vee on Clairemont Ave. in Eau Claire, Wis.
Exterior walls and foundation are up for the new Hy-Vee on Clairemont Ave. in Eau Claire, Wis.(Jimmie Kaska/WEAU)

Across the street from the Hy-Vee construction site is a vacant lot at the end of London Road, but initial permits have already been approved for two businesses to occupy the space. Associated Bank has an approved, twice-amended plan to add a new branch on most of the lot, potentially consolidating ‘one or two other locations,’ says Allen.

A new fast-casual restaurant, Panda Express, would share street access and parking with Associated Bank under the most recently-approved plan, and take the space closest to Clairemont Avenue.

Allen says the city still anticipates the businesses to move forward with their planning, noting that the initial permit approvals are valid for three years. Initial approval was granted in June of 2020 for both of the permits at the London Road location.

A sign for the Shopko Plaza in Eau Claire, Wis.
A sign for the Shopko Plaza in Eau Claire, Wis.(Jimmie Kaska/WEAU)

Another former retail box store space is being redeveloped at the other end of Clairemont Avenue. In front of the vacant Shopko building, the largest part of the Shopko Plaza, a section of the parking lot is being turned into a new commercial building that will house three or four businesses, according to Allen.

One of the businesses planning on taking up residence in the new building will be Shopko Optical, which is currently located inside of the Shopko Plaza building next to the vacant Shopko.

Another occupant of the new building is expected to be a second Chipotle location in the city of Eau Claire. A spokesperson for Chipotle says that the restaurant chain is currently scheduled to open a location in Eau Claire “at some point in the summer.”

Allen adds that there hasn’t been any permitting activity recently for this development, but stated that the site needs utility work. The shell of the new approximately 10,000 square-foot multi-tenant building is expected to be completed later this spring.

Across from the Shopko Plaza, early construction is underway for a new car wash. Tommy’s Car Wash is set to go into the space formerly occupied by a Hardee’s restaurant. Most of the permitting is done and approved, says Allen, except for gaining exceptions to place a ground-based sign to promote the business.

A new Kwik Trip location is being built along Lexington Blvd. and Patton Street in Eau Claire,...
A new Kwik Trip location is being built along Lexington Blvd. and Patton Street in Eau Claire, Wis. in an existing structure.(Jimmie Kaska/WEAU)

A familiar entry in the redevelopment of commercial space in Eau Claire is Kwik Trip. Allen says that right now, plans are in for three new locations in the city, including one just off of Clairemont Avenue on the northeast corner of East Lexington Boulevard and Patton Street, near Chippewa Valley Technical College and the upper campus of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. That specific location, says Allen, is an expansion of an existing building formerly occupied by a Mobil Mart.

Allen says that having so many new businesses arrive in Eau Claire is nice to see.

“Eau Claire is on the map,” says Allen “[We’re] seeing newer entities coming into towns and the region.”

Also nice, says Allen, is the re-use of commercial space along one of Eau Claire’s major roads.

“You’re seeing several aging lots and spaces get bought up and redeveloped,” says Allen of the multiple projects along Clairemont Avenue.

“It will be seen if this plays out across the city at large.”

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